Q&A with Smokin’ Oak – Opening Soon!

Smokin' Oak Group Image

[Left to right: Dan and Maribeth Yaksich, John and Debbie Schneider; Matt Jaksha]


Meet Dan Yaksich, owner of Smokin’ Oak Wood Fired Pizza – set to open in Midtown Crossing in 2021! Read on for allll the delicious details of pizza, beer and more!

Introduce yourself.
Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza and Taproom is a collaborative business. I work for a local Commodities company as a Commodities Trader and Analyst. My wife Maribeth has been in both the retail business and the restaurant business most of her professional career. We have owned a couple of local small businesses in the past. Our partners include John and Debbie Schneider. John is a VP of Engineering at a local company and his wife Debbie (my sister) is involved in multiple local charities and ministries. Dr. Matt Jaksha a local radiologist is the 3rd partner in the business. 

How did you get involved with Smokin’ Oak?
I was introduced to the concept by a relative. My business partner and I decided to visit the Smokin’ Oak location in Rochester, MN, which was one of the two that existed at the time. In short, we fell in love with the pizza. We both adamantly agreed that the "Neapolitan" style pizza they were making was as good or maybe better than any pizza as we had ever had -- especially the crust. So, we called the owner and now own Smokin’ Oak Omaha.

What makes Smokin’ Oak pizza the best in town?
We spent years crafting our dough recipe. Our unique wood-fired oven bakes pizzas at 900 degrees in about 90 seconds. We hand chop our vegetables throughout the day, roast our own meats, and make our proprietary dough in-house every morning. We prepare our tomato sauce using fresh, crushed tomatoes and make our sauces in-house. In fact, Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza is so fresh, we don’t even have a freezer.  

What is your absolute favorite Smokin’ Oak pizza?
Tough Question but probably the San Marino, which features prosciutto, goat cheese, red pepper, and spinach. It's a really delicious and unique flavor profile.

We hear beer lovers will be in for a treat, too! Tell us about the beer system and what kinds of beers we can look forward to?
Lots of beer options for everyone. In addition, we will also have a variety of wines and mixed drinks customers can self-pour such as a margarita or bellini. We are using a self-serve drink system called iPourIt. Customers will be provided an RFID wristband, card or fob which they use to simply scan the drink they wish to enjoy with and pour as many ounces as they want to enjoy. Each drink will feature tasting notes, ABV, and how many ounces they have already consumed. Customers can also enjoy a touch-free experience, reducing the risk of COVID spreading. The ability to try more drinks in smaller amounts enhances the experience by trying new and different drinks you may not drink by ordering a whole glass. 

When can we look forward to enjoying a pizza at Smokin’ Oak? 
We are targeting March 2021!

What drew you to Midtown Crossing?
Initially, we were really drawn to the beautiful space. A three-sided patio that overlooks Turner Park, outdoor firepits, lots of space, and beautiful views were all very impactful. Additionally, we loved the diverse midtown community, which includes universities, a variety of businesses, amazing condos and apartments, hotels, established neighborhoods – all while being a cultural center of Omaha events and activities.

If you could share a pizza and beer with anyone, who would it be and why?
I love being with my family. We have twins who are about to turn 22. A great meal and drinks with the people I love the most is pretty special.

What’s the best thing you’ve read or watched lately?
Too much Netflix during COVID, for certain. I just finished a book called Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. As a well-known forgetful human, I highly recommend it. 

I would be remiss to not share how this entire project is a collaboration. My wife Maribeth and I are equal partners with our dear friend Dr Matt Jaksha as well as my sister and brother in-law John and Debbie Schneider. These are some of the best people I know and feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be sharing this experience with them. This is a group project and would not happen without any of the partners. We are all very excited to serve the Omaha community and very much look forward to being a small part of the Midtown Community.


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